Colin Freeze reports on the arrest of two individuals for breaking the COVID-19 rules regarding mandatory isolation after returning from a foreign country. If convicted they could be imprisoned for up to six months and fined as much as $750,000.

Getting Started

Introduction to the article (perhaps by having everyone read it)

This lesson is designed for secondary level students, to be applicable to both online and classroom learning situations. Whether in one-on-one settings, in small groups or cohorts, or via a learning partner online, this lesson involves reading, discussion, and a written report.

Subject Area(s) covered

Social studies, American studies, current events

New Terms to explain

Quarantine Act, War Measures Act, Civil Liberties Association, protocol, contravene

Materials Needed

Access to the article and the Internet:

Study and Discussion Activity

Key things students can learn from this lesson

  1. Conditions under which the Canadian government can restrict personal freedoms
  2. Examples of limiting personal freedoms in our Canadian democracy
  3. The role of our governments in protecting citizens from themselves

Action (here’s how we’ll do it)


The sitting president of the United States exhibits a disdain for mask-wearing and social distancing protocols established by public health experts to control the spread of COVID-19.  His views are shared by some armed militias and extremist organizations, as well as—and in part—by peaceful protest groups in Canada, all of whom argue that these protocols unnecessarily impinge on their civil liberties. This raises an important question: Under what conditions and circumstances do citizens in a democracy agree—through their elected government—to curb their personal freedoms for the good of the country?

Before discussing this question, read the article by Mr. Freeze.

Your teacher or a group leader can start a discussion about the article, using these questions as guides:

  • Were you surprised at the possible penalties these people may have to face?
  • Did you think the rules about COVID were up to us to follow, or did you think there was the force of law behind some of them (such as isolating foreign travellers)?
  • Why might the Civil Liberties Association be concerned about the way the police obtained their information on the couple in question?
  • Do you think the government should ever have the right to tell you to wear a mask, or to not meet in large groups?
  • Think about times of war. Imagine our country is in a fight for its life, requiring vast amounts of resources to protect us from a foreign power. Faced with being conquered, would you agree to give up some of your rights—such as the freedom to assemble in large groups, or the freedom to purchase as much of any product as you cared to?


  • Visit this Canadian Encyclopedia website ( ) and read the first paragraph, then skip to the section on the Second World War and read the first few paragraphs.
  • From the Wikipedia site (, read the six major provisions in Section 6, under the heading “The First World War.”
  • Finally, prepare a short written report that addresses the following questions:
    • Under what kind of conditions might a democratically-elected government place limitations on the very people who elected it?
    • In what ways, if any, is the fight against COVID-19 similar to or different from a war?
    • List the ways your life has been restricted by government-issued COVID-19 protocols.
      • Compare your list to the kinds of restrictions Canadians were under during WWII.
      • Do you think these are more or less restrictive than the current restriction on your liberties?
    • Based on what you’ve read so far, if you were the judge, what sentence would you impose on the couple charged under the Quarantine Act? Explain.
    • Finally, if you believe our government is abusing its power during the current COVID crisis, what power do you or anyone of voting age have to make a change in the future?

Consolidation of Learning

  • When they’ve finished their report, they will discuss it with their group learning partner, parent or teacher, noting on the report how their opinions change or do not change based on the follow-up discussion.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria

Students can:

  • Describe some of the consequences for contravening the Quarantine Act;
  • List historical examples of the government restricting civil liberties;
  • Explain how the COVID-19 crisis is similar to or different from a war;
  • Act responsibly during this crisis, and be able to explain their actions to others.

Confirming Activities

  • In everyday discussions and conversations, students demonstrate a deeper understanding of the rights and duties of a citizen in a democracy.

Helpful Internet Searches

From the website The Conversation, which claims to be dedicated to high journalistic standards:

Activities to do together

  • All of the above.